Detroit — Rough day at the office for Mikie Mahtook.
He thought for sure he had hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning of the Tigers' 7-6 loss to the Royals on Monday. He high-fived first base coach Omar Vizquel as he rounded first and then began to get a sick feeling in his stomach.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon was drifting back to the fence in left field and it was clear he had a beat on Mahtook’s fly ball. Gordon, who robbed James McCann of a double earlier in the inning, timed his jump perfectly, extended well over the fence and broke Mahtook’s heart.
“When he hit it, it came off the bat pretty well,” Gordon said. “I just tried to get back to the fence right away and get in a good position. Luckily, it didn't get too far over. I just timed my jump perfectly and was able to make a good catch.”
Mahtook tried valiantly to exact some kind of revenge for the thievery. He nearly tore the left field fence down trying to scale it to catch a home run hit by Salvador Perez in the sixth inning.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, with the tying run at second base and two outs, Mahtook grounded out to end the game.
It’s certainly not the first time Gordon has wrecked the Tigers with his glove over the years.
“The last couple of (batting practice) rounds, I try to go back to the fence and just play around with it,” Gordon said. “It's a short fence and you can kind of grab it and get over it a little bit. It's just something I do during batting practice.”
His catch on Mahtook saved three runs. Then in the sixth inning, with the Tigers down 5-3, center fielder Lorenzo Cain saved two runs from scoring with a sliding catch on a sinking liner hit by Jose Iglesias.
“Just saving runs," Gordon said. “That's what we try to do as defenders. It's pretty frustrating for an offense when you can go out there and make plays like that.”
Old man Nick
Tigers' Nick Castellanos hit his 20th home run of the season in the ninth inning. That makes him the first Tigers player to post 20 home runs and 10 triples in the same season since Curtis Granderson did it in 2008.
With all the roster turnover lately, Castellanos — 25 and his fifth season — is suddenly one of the old vets.
“It is kind of weird to look around the clubhouse and now the only guys with more time in a Tigers uniform than I have are Miggy (Cabrera) and (Anibal) Sanchez,” he said. “It’s definitely a different feeling.
“But I accept whatever responsibility that’s given me.”
Anibal Sanchez will make his first start for the Tigers since going on the disabled list Aug. 16. Make no mistake, these next few weeks are critical both to him and for him.
“It is really important for me,” he said. “I want to finish strong. I want to show that this whole season — getting sent to the bullpen, going to the minor leagues — was worth it for me. Right now, I just want to finish as strong as I can.”
The Tigers can buy out the final year of his contract next season and he could become a free agent.
“I want to get back to (the pitcher he was two seasons ago),” he said. “Especially because I am healthy now. It’s not because of the ups and downs or going to the minors. The last two years has not been easy for me.
“But in the end, I have to keep working and keep preparing. I know nothing is given. Life is like that. But I know I can still pitch.”
Around the horn
Michael Fulmer, out with a recurrence of right ulnar neuritis, will be examined by Dr. James Andrews on Sept. 11.
… Alex Wilson served the last game of his three-game suspension Monday.
… Cabrera still has three more left. Manager Brad Ausmus said Cabrera has been working out before the games. “I told him to avoid batting practice,” he said. “I told him to just rest his back. But he’s been getting treatment and I told him I didn’t care if he didn’t take BP until the first day in Toronto (Friday). I encouraged him to take at least a few days off.”
… After the game, the Tigers announced they were adding right-handed pitcher Victor Alcantara to the roster from Toledo. He was acquired in the deal for Cameron Maybin last offseason. The Tigers now have 13 pitchers in the bullpen.